This week, we'll discuss reality.
When defining objects in the world, various philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, etc.) have used words such as “form,” “substance,” “essence,” “primary qualities,” and “secondary qualities.”
Discussion question: Can objects in the world be satisfactorily described using such terminology and ideas?
Starting with Berkley and continued by Hume, Kant, Hegel, etc., there has been substantial skepticism as to whether the objects in the world are as they appear to us. Instead, to one degree or another, such philosophers posit that our “ideas” or “mental categories” shape reality into what we perceive.
Discussion question: To what extent do you believe that our perceptions actually reflect reality?
Unlike all philosophers mentioned so far in this syllabus, we don’t have to rely upon reason and observation to tell us what objects in the world are made of — we have advanced physical sciences that give us scientific and mathematically rigorous concepts such as “atoms,” “forces” (strong, weak, EM, gravity), etc.
Discussion question: To what extent do you understand and rely upon the scientific explanations available to us when understanding reality?
Discussion question: In your estimation, what do current scientific explanations get wrong or leave out?
It’s probably accurate to say that we have slightly individual conceptions and understandings of what reality is. These conceptions can be philosophical, skeptical, scientific, and many other things.
Discussion question: Does your conception of reality guide your actions? If so, how?